Welcome. My name is Christy SB. I’m a supervisor with the Tennessee Department children services. People oftentimes ask me what to do this job. Well it’s challenging heartbreaking but yet rewarding at the same time I’m committed to this line of work. And so are the people this you’re about to hear from. Thank you for your interest in the Department of Children Services.
A case manager will be successful if they employ professional compassion professional compassion with employ or entails engagement with the organization. Just an overall concern for the family. When the employee uses those two of those skill sets it will garner support from the family build the trust the bond that they need to work with the family and overall.
Have the family adjust and make changes necessary for them to be successful.
The skills that a social worker would need in order to do this job is time management skills time management huge in this field and being able to work well with others and empathy genuineness and just the drive to want to really work with these families.
I think one of the qualities that I do well is engagement peace. Building that relationship with the youth that you’re working with and the family is going to be the key to having a successful outcome. I do a lot of things daily phone calls, meetings, visits. However a lot of the work I do has to do with writing and documenting what has happened with the family and.
Case management will require a lot of writing. You will have to document. Everything that has happened. What services worked what services did didn’t work. And the reason that’s so vitally important is because. As a case manager you’re telling a story about this family and that story is going to be shared possibly in in a courtroom. And it also helps the department gauge what works and what doesn’t work with each individual family.
Flexibility is huge at the end of the day being a social worker is a 24 hour a day seven day a week job. Yes our hours are eight to 430 but if a client needs me at midnight on a Saturday night I need to do whatever I can to make myself available for them.
So flexibility is huge when you do make that one difference in a child’s life or a family’s life it’s worth it.
At the end of the day we all have a past. We’ve all faced challenges and those challenges for me led me into the field of social work.
Staff can expect to work with families with children who have been abused physically sexually.
Environmental neglect is another concern that we address abandonment and prescription drug use is major. At this point in time to deal with those type of situations is very important for them to understand. That they have to leave their baggage at home address the facts.
Run with policy and procedure and they will be okay.
Even though I made my desk writing a lot. My job requires me to go out into the community and meet with community partners. Have it obtain assistance from them. Meet with families meet with the court system. It is also really important that. I also meet with my supervisor in this job. You are going to be very close to your supervisor. It’s not like other jobs where. Perhaps you might meet your supervisor once a month or whenever there is a crisis. This job requires that you. Work with your supervisor very closely and also with their co-workers in your team.
The work we do. Requires a partnership.
Partnership with the court system partnership with lawyers. Partnership with the school system partnership with law enforcement community partners so that we are providing the family the services that they need to eliminate the problem. Build the family on worst case scenarios terminate parental rights and set children free for adoption.
It’s extremely important for the case manager to be prepared when they come in front of the judge the case manager it truly serves as the eyes and the ears for the court and if they cannot tell us why a child is unsafe where they are in the home then we may not know that and we may not remove a child from a home so they have to be prepared when they come they have to know their facts they have to know their children they have to know what’s going on with the parents they have to know if the child is living with them with the mother predominantly living with the mother and they haven’t had any contact with the father they need to know that they need to know what the father’s name is they need to be able to show that they’ve made all efforts to locate who that father is because both parents are responsible for taking care of the child and if we remove it from the mother then maybe we can place the child with the father instead.
And so all these things that they need to be able to communicate. It’s a lot of work it’s hard work but it’s very important work and in less than communicating well with the judge all of the information regarding the case then we cannot make the best decisions that we can and from the best interests of the children as we deal with new employees a lot of times they feel like they’re out there by themselves but we support them. The team leader supports them and we build the team around and we prevent provide them a mentor and then mentor works with them with their cases to ensure that they’re taking them and making the right steps or doing the right thing with their families ensuring that the following procedure and policy to provide the best service available to the families and children.
It can be overwhelming at times. Communication is important to communicate with the team leader to let the team know how they’re feeling or their mentor so that we can staff. The situation and.
Let them vent and then retool them so that they can be successful but they’re not by themselves in my opinion it takes about one year for a person to truly learn the foundation of the job and then after that it’s still evolving. I think that you can that.
You can go to school and you can get the education and the skills that you need to start working for the department and doing social work.
But it’s really the experience I tell them in that the new hires that I mentor all the time that you’re going to make mistakes and when you make those mistakes that’s how you become a better case manager and a better social worker.
And training is important you do learn a lot in training but it’s probably the scariest feeling when you get your first case that you completely have to investigate yourself. Yeah I mean all that stuff does fall into play but it’s like oh my gosh you know did I ask the right question. Having a degree in social work!
Definitely somewhat prepared me for this job but there’s nothing like on the job experience that’s where you’re going to learn the majority of what you need to know.
It’s very important to understand that every family is different every situation is different. Every case is different.
This line of work is definitely both mentally and emotionally demanding.
It’s a very challenging job. You see the worst of the worst sometimes you’ll see children who have been abused who have been beaten who’ve been left to die. There are some cases that really hurt your heart. And you know if you love children and you love the possibility that children can grow up today and you see children in such a horrible state it really does minimally drive you in it it can emotionally drain you as well but it’s still one of the best things that we can do. We have to be the eyes and ears of our children.
They’re the most vulnerable citizens that we have. And there has to be people who are working with them to make sure that they have the best opportunity that they can. It’s arrive definitely don’t put your own personal feelings and opinions first because there’s always more to the story even if might be a really bad severe abuse case is trying to figure out you know who did it what it was done and if there is you know a removal that’s necessary for the children to be safe and it’s just you know it’s very.
I guess you know a amount at times is very emotional whenever you’re dealing with these families because they automatically think that were they’re accusing them so they get very defensive even if we ask them just a basic question.
If you have got engagement skills the work can be easier with the families if you really can show that genuineness and empathy towards them they usually can pick up on that and they’ll work well with you. I always tell my families we’re a team. I’m not here to make any decisions without you. We’re here to make decisions together to better your family and kind of get you out of this situation. So I feel that if you have got engagement skills then it’s easy to work with the parents in order to remove a child from a home.
The DCF caseworker has to convince the judge that the child’s safety is at risk. We deal a lot with children who are in circumstances that may not be what we would like.
For instance if it’s an environmental neglect type case where the house is very dirty very cluttered a says caseworker needs to make sure that they’re understanding that it may not be to their standards of what they would like. However it has to they have to make a showing that it’s unsafe for the child or the child is at risk of imminent harm or danger. And so that’s a different. It’s sometimes very difficult for DCF case manager to understand the difference and it’s not necessarily because it’s a value issue but it’s an a safety issue.
As a family service worker working with children in foster care we have a lot of responsibilities.
When a child comes into custody we have to ensure that they have a physical completed. We have to ensure that they have a dental appointment set up or completed within the past 30 days or the next 30 days. We have to ensure that any of their mental health services we follow up with. So if they’re already receiving treatment somewhere we typically contact though that training facility and ensure that those services can continue or we get those services set up elsewhere. So in the first 30 days there’s a lot of different things that take place including meetings and different assessments.
There’s a lot of assessments that we do that have to be completed within certain timeframes. We have to develop a plan with the family and what that plan is. We talk about goals how do we get this child out of custody. How do we find this child permanency? And as a team we create that plan in those action steps.
There can be things that the department are responsible for and items that the family and the children are responsible for. So the department may have to pick up a family member and take them to an appointment or if they need their driver’s license assisting with that. So there’s a lot of transporting the children and the family to ensure that these services are completed. We are just as responsible for ensuring that services are completed as the family is.
Many of our youth who are introducing us custody as delinquent have also experienced either abuse or neglect or some type of trauma in their history. This can be somewhat challenging. With juvenile justice youth because. Technically they’re entering custody because they’ve gotten into trouble or been adjudicated of a crime. But there are many factors that may lead up to that and a lot of times those factors include either abuse neglect or some type of trauma that they’ve experienced. So it’s very important for the worker to understand what some of the underlying issues may be with that youth and with the family in order to be effective with the therapeutic process.
It’s really just.
You don’t get a lot of gratification every day.
It’s not something that you’re going to go home every single night and say oh it was a great day I did all this great work because that’s just not the reality of it being a case manager is probably maybe one of the most lifeless jobs next to being a teacher. You really have to get into these homes. You have to get with the families. A lot of times the families are not going to cooperate with the department or the services but the case managers they don’t want to be a part of court they don’t want any help and they want to do what they want to do.
But it’s their requirement as a case manager no matter what barriers the family puts up is that they have to work with that family. They have to do the best that they can to reunify with the child with that parent. And so if you have a parent that refuses to answer your phone calls or refuses to do the things that you have set up for they miss appointments all the time you still have to keep trying.
It is up to the Department of the services the caseworkers to continue to do whatever they can to make sure that the family is getting the services that that child remains.
Let me give you an example of why I love this job. I recently got a case of a mom. A single mom with five kids. Originally the case came to me because of environmental neglect dirty house. But as I got to know the mom in this situation I realized that there was way more to this than just a dirty house. The mom really had no financial resources no support from family and she was in dire need of something some very basic things. For example a bed she didn’t have her own bed.
And through the help of community agencies she got a brand new mattress with a bed. We were able to help her obtain birth certificates for her children. She enrolled them in pre-school and. Through just constant communication and talking and identify what the goal was for her life were we were able to do some things to really put you know some positive things in her life for her and her children to move forward.
There are so many rewards when you see children reuniting with families when you see children growing and doing really well and you see them on the right track and you see things that are very hopeful for their future. It is really a rewarding job as well. Coming to social work for career choice
Have the opportunity to impact lives. Make a difference. And there’s nothing.
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